12. We walked down to site to say our goodbyes to everybody and shamelessly take some pictures in front of the schools before we left. I genuinely mean it when I say everyone was very sad to see us leave. People were begging us to stay, it must have been because of Emily! What a couple of weeks! Roll on the next few months! Main Pic (roughly): Tristan, Ollie, Beni, Mike, Remi, Maude, Lorna, Jan, Mayssa, Tony, Owen, Leo, Valentina, Gosha, Rigo, Me, Caroline, Terhi, Chris, Shah, Carissa, Rose, Dillon, Tyler, Harry.
Mooney, Jake, Carolina, Emily, Mads, Ben, Jess, Lindsay, Michelle, Flavia, Yolanda, Sandra, Blair, Tobias.
11. After a couple of late finishes for both me and Emily, our last night was a really fun one, as it coincided with Auction night. Hosted by the hilarious, louder than life American, Tyler, everyone spent small fortunes on all sorts of random items. Me and Emily even sold out tent for around £75! All proceeds going direct to the kids of course! We sat around the campfire until late, drinking rum and chatting, not having to worry about work in the morning for a change. It was a brilliant way to end our stay, although I think I speak for both of us when I say we definitely could have stayed longer and we were both a little sad to be leaving so soon! On the other hand, when living in a dust bowl, in a tent, working stupid hours in the incredible heat, with no showers and basic meals, it does feel like you've been there on base for a long time sometimes! Either way, the next morning we collected our leaving shirts and packed up our dusty belongings!
15 October 2017
5. The schools looked amazing! This time we were building two secondary school buildings, 5 classrooms in total, plus bathroom facilities, an office building and a playground. Me and Emily had timed it perfectly as we did half a days work, meeting everyone, being shown around site, doing the few odd jobs, then we had a very rare 2 day weekend. This gave us the chance to really make friends with our fellow volunteers. We were shown the river, the stunning waterfall, the best place to eat, we stayed up late around the campfire with a beer, playing silly games. On the Sunday, Ander and Lance (2 of the nicest guys you could every wish to meet) had organised a big football tournament for all the local teams to enter. On our day off we all helped clean the stoney 'pitch' up and then kids, women's and men's games were played all day. Our All Hands team made it to the semi finals, losing on penalties!!
6. It was a brilliant couple of days, but me and Emily were now itching to get to work on the site! We were up at 6.30, had our delicious breakfast of oats and we're all ready to go by 7. Unfortunately, being the newbies we were put straight onto housekeeping that morning!! We got down to site by the afternoon though and by this point Harry had returned from his break! It was so good catching up with him after he was my project coordinator in Nepal! That afternoon, in the boiling heat, me and Emily donned the 'sperm suits' and insulated the walls of classroom one. The job was called itchy for a reason!! After work we walked to the river and washed the half tonne of fibre glass off! The next day I spent up scallfolding with an impact driver, securing the outside walls to the first building. Just another average day working with All Hands!
13 October 2017
10. I continued to either paint or sand and Emily helped with putting up walls over our last 2 days. The buildings were really starting to take shape and the playground had sprung up as well. I made a conscious effort to try and take some photos to remind myself of the tiny village of Puerta Palache where we called home for two weeks. As mentioned before, the place was so incredibly dusty and dirty. The houses mostly built out of dirt with tin lids and the playing fields were basically all stones and rock, covered in more dust, but the people were so friendly, the surrounding views beautiful and the food delicious. The current secondary school was the one pictured, made out of plywood until we had finished the new buildings. The main 'high street' was just open dirt going up through the centre of the village. It really was an incredibly tight knit community though!
8. When we started our time at All Hands me and Emily had said to each other that if we could survive 2 weeks in our crappy tent then we should be fine for the long term. That was being put to the test after a week as our tent was collapsing in on itself. A few minor tweaks and Emily agreed to stay put in the tent until the next time it fell down (dorm room alternative attached). With that we had made it a week and the weekend was an interesting one. There was a pilgrimage that went through Puerta Palache over a few days and it seemed that the whole town had been turned into one giant marketplace, with everyone's home being turned into campsites. The town was packed with religious travellers, sleeping on tarpaulin, playing music and praying in the church. As for us volunteers, we enjoyed the extra food options that weekend and generally just took it easy.
11 October 2017
9. Our one day off was seriously appreciated as by this point, many of us were starting early, at 6.30 in order to get the schools finished by deadline. One more day of sanding and we were ready to start painting building 1! It was exciting to get a chance to paint after missing out in Nepal, however it turns out it's a really fiddly frustrating job! Paintings definitely not my thing, but I did enjoy the change of pace, it was certainly a less physical job. By this point we were onto our last few days of work and were seriously considering extending our stay. The team was so nice, watching the sunset by the river each night with close friends and a beer was a pretty decent way to end each day. But the work was winding down, people were starting to move across to the new site in Peru and there were many other things to see on our travels so we decided to stick with our original 2 week timeline and enjoy our last couple of days with everyone.
8 October 2017
4. Thankfully the delay wasn't too long and the flight was only a short one up to Piura, a nothing town in northern Peru, with very little to do and no real distinguishing features. However this was the gateway town to our All Hands project in the remote community of Puerto Palache. We had an early night in preparation for the next two weeks of rough living and hard work and were up early the next morning to get the 2 hour bus to our new temporary home. We met Dillon at the Hostel/bus stop and by 10.30 were at base. The first impressions of the place was the dust. Everything was covered! The heat was dry and almost unbearable and the camp was a about a tenth of the size of the one in Nepal. We were given a quick show around and then joined everyone for lunch. Immediately we both felt right at home, the team was a lot smaller and close knit than in Nepal and that afternoon we were changed and straight down to the worksite!
7. The rest of the week was largely spent sanding. I spent 4 days in a row, first learning how to putty/plaster walls, then using a sander to prepare the walls for painting. After 2 days of it, Emily came and joined me. We became unofficial team leaders, with Harry apologising to me for me having done so much, but asking if I'm happy carrying on and leading it! I did manage to sneak one day of learning how to put studs up in building two, which I enjoyed as it involved a lot of measuring and cutting using the angle grinder. Only a week had gone by, but it felt like I had been living with this team for a month. Base life was a lot more comfortable than in Nepal, everyone was so close and we even had a team dog, Caramela who now used our tent porch to sleep on at night. Oh and the food!! The food was soooo much better than in Nepal. Everyday we had a selection to choose from including a meat option and salad. It makes such a difference!
27 September 2017
3. There she was, waiting for me in the airport. It was amazing to see her and to discover how much Spanish she had managed to learn in such a short space of time! Thank god, cos it turns out it's really useful in South America! We hopped into a taxi and headed for Mira Flores, the backpacker centre of Lima. We were only staying for 2 nights and it was already midnight by this point, but the Hostel was nice. Emily managed to get into a very friendly conversation with the lady on reception (obviously) and we had our breakfast cooked for us the next morning. That day we took it easy, strolled around the capital and had a beautiful steak dinner at the classiest restaurant I've ever been to. We obviously justified it as a long overdue date night! After a brilliant evening, the morning was a mad trip to the airport, arriving late and being told we couldn't board! Fortunately we begged the manager and she let us on, telling us to hurry only to then find out the flight was delayed anyway!
26 September 2017
2. First stop however, Miami! Or Hollywood, an area 20 miles up the coast from the famous Miami South Beach, but only a couple of miles from Fort Lauderdale airport. Despite being in America, the travelling really starts at the airport, as I haggled with a Nepalese taxi driver to squeeze me in with an Argentinian family to save on taxi costs. Me, 2 ladies and 4 kids all packed into one car, bags on laps, I was straight back into the swing of it! The hotel was basic, but the location was perfect for my stroll along the beach the following day. That morning there had been torrential rain, but by the time I surfaced the Miami heat was incredible. I stopped off for lunch with an old retired couple who told me all about where to visit in South America and I told them all about England! Then it was back to the airport, this time to Peru and of course, Emily!
5 September 2017
1. Here we go again! It didn't take long, but after being back in England for a couple of months, I eventually made the decision to pack my bags and jet set halfway across the world again! The summer in England was packed with fun events, spending lots of time with Emily, congratulating AJ and Lex on their engagement, going to Wimbledon, meeting Emily's family, a short trip to Devon, an even shorter trip to the Lake District and Blackpool! Cross dressing (again), working stupidly long hours at Norton (again again!) and not to mention all of the cricket and a long weekend away with the guys in Brno. All in all, it was a great summer, but the lure of South America, travelling with Emily and spending more time with All Hands was too much for me! Saying goodbye to Will at the airport for what could be our last meeting in a couple of years, I headed for my flight to Lima!